| BHAICHUNG: To miss tie
Margao: India’s star striker Bhaichung Bhutia, recuperating from a knee operation, will miss the crucial return tie against North Korea in the Asian Cup preliminary round to be held on Sunday at Nehru Stadium here.
Following its arrival this afternoon, the Indian team, which lost 0-2 against North Korea in the away match, had a practice session this evening without Bhutia and defender Debjit Ghosh, suffering from viral infection.
Indian coach Stephen Constantine conceded that the “absence of Bhutia will be felt greatly as his experience would have made a difference. He is a fox in the box”.
“The Koreans are a good side and it will be difficult to beat them as they have an advantage having won against us in the away match and need just a draw to progress further,” the coach said.
“They will employ more men in the defence and invite us to attack them and will try to make counter moves. The first 15 minutes will be crucial. If we succeed in scoring then we have a good chance of winning the match,” he said.
“The heat will be a major factor as the Koreans are not accustomed to the humid condition. We will try to take advantage and exploit the humid conditions,” Constantine said.
The Koreans, after their arrival last evening, also had a practice session at Tilak ground, Vasco. They were literally feeling the heat but were confident of winning against the Indians.
Korean chief coach Ri Jong-man said: “We faced stiff resistance from them in the first half and our defence was tested in the second half of the match”.
“The two goals advantage will work in our favour. But we do not want to discount the Indians at any cost. They are a complete side,” he said.